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NEW YORK — Private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management is taking a majority stake in Avon's North American division.

The companies said that they believe the partnership will help to improve Avon's performance and boost shareholder value.

Cerberus will get an 80.1 percent interest in Avon North America in exchange for a $170 million equity investment. The North American unit will be separated from Avon Products Inc. into a privately-held company that will include the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. It will be managed by New York-based Cerberus.

The new company will enter into a licensing agreement with Avon for the use of the Avon brand, the Avon product portfolio and other intellectual property. There will also be a transition services agreement to include IT and research and development.

Pablo Muñoz, current president of Avon North America, will leave the company, effective January 4. Cerberus will name a new CEO for the business.

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